Parole in Place for family members of the military – A “New” Option

Hanes & Bartels July 18, 2014

In a policy memo, published in 2013, the federal immigration agency USCIS clarified its procedures for a little-known immigration law benefit for military families called Parole in Place. Parole in place allows the spouses, parents, or children of active-duty and retired military to get a Form I-94. This little piece of paper means that they can be eligible to “adjust status” to Permanent Resident (green card holder) even if their previous entry to the United States was not by lawful means.

This memo got a surprising amount of airtime in the national media. To me, the coverage was surprising. I wasn’t surprised because I think Parole in Place is unimportant (to the contrary, it’s very important), but because in many cases the media got it wrong, informing the public that this was a “new” policy.

In fact, Parole in Place for the families of military servicemembers has been an “unofficial” part of immigration policy for many years. The USICS has long had the legal authority to do this under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Sections 212(d)(5)(A) and 235(a)(1). But the first written confirmation of the policy didn’t come until an August 30, 2010 letter from then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to members of the U.S. Congress.

Most immigration attorneys previously believed that Parole in Place could only be used for military spouses. But in fact, even before last fall’s memo, here at Hanes & Bartels we had successfully applied for Parole in Place for the children and parents of several Fort Carson U.S. Army soldiers. It can be used for any “immediate relative” (parent, spouse, or minor child).

Many immigration lawyers never even knew about Parole in Place until the recent memo. I’ve been surprised at how many of my colleagues in Colorado (who know that our firm does a lot of military immigration cases because we have FortCarson and Air Force bases here in Colorado Springs), have been calling me in the past few months to learn more about the “new” option of Parole in Place.

If you serve in the military, or you a military veteran, call our office to ask what your immigration options might be for your family members.